(P. 112). In the next breath, the report adds, " Whether firearms analysis should be deemed admissible based on current evidence is a decision that belongs to the courts." Id.
The juxtaposition of these observations is puzzling, for the report also seems to equate "foundational validity" to the legal standard for admissibility in Federal Rule of Evidence 702(c). This part of Rule 702 requires expert testimony to be "the product of reliable principles and methods." Seeking "complete clarity about our intent," PCAST (p. 43) states that
In other words, the PCAST report apparently advances these claims:
- Evidence E ("firearms analysis") lacks quality Q ("foundational validity," which is a "key type of scientific validity").
- Q is a sine qua non for the admissibility of all expert evidence under Rule 702.
- Courts can admit E if they want to.
- A court might not be bound by Rule 702(c) because the jurisdiction does not follow this rule. (The rule was amended to include the words "reliable principles and methods" to codify the Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993), line of cases (particularly General Electric Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136 (1997)), but a substantial minority of states apply a different version of the rule.)
- A court can reject PCAST's claim that "foundational validity" is "the scientific standard corresponding to the legal standard" (at least in the manner that PCAST defines "foundational validity").
- A court can reject PCAST's claim that the scientific literature does not establish "foundational validity" as the term is defined and applied in the report to "firearms analysis."
More on the PCAST Report